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Wayne State University Upgrades to Next-generation, Wireless Networking

With the launch of a $1.3 million technology initiative, Wayne State University is joining the first wave of universities adopting new 802.11n high-performance wi-fi technology. The project doubles the capacity of Wayne State's current wireless network within its Midtown Detroit campus. The 33,000-student school is upgrading to 802.11n products from Meru Networks.

According to the university, the new 802.11n standard for wireless networks provides faster data transfer rates (about 250 megabits per second/Mbps compared to 54 Mbps for the existing 802.11g standard), travels twice as far as current standards (about 230 feet, more than twice that of 802.11g) and is more reliable.

"We are being proactive in making the latest wireless technology available. This project fulfills a major technological initiative that supports infrastructure development as part of the university's 2006-2011 Strategic Plan," said Joseph F. Sawasky, chief information officer and associate VP for Computing & Information Technology at Wayne State. "Our students, the workforce of the future, expect convenient and reliable wireless Internet on campus, as it is a common means of accessing information."

Wayne State began its year-long wireless upgrade and expansion project on March 10, 2008. Meru products will replace the current 802.11b/g wireless access points (APs) in 28 WSU buildings, and will be deployed in 22 additional buildings. Wayne State's total number of wireless APs will grow from 453 to 1,000, bringing high-performance wireless coverage to all classrooms, research buildings, and libraries on the university's main campus.

"The higher capacity, faster data rates and increased ranges provided by Meru Networks' 802.11n equipment will enable more people to utilize the university's expanded wireless network for high-bandwidth applications and innovative rich digital content in teaching and learning--such as streaming video," Sawasky said. "With the current wireless technology, network response time drops significantly when many people are trying to connect to the same wi-fi access point. We see this happen in large classrooms, the libraries, and at the Student Center Building."

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is expected to ratify 802.11n as a standard in March 2009. Wayne State will be completing its upgraded wireless deployment at the same time, and a software upgrade will bring the network up to the final standard.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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